Ohhhh man. I am in love with this area!! Like, in LOOOOVVEE. I’m still a little confused as to whether I live in Willowdale, North York, or Toronto, but it very well could be all three… either way we’re about an hour’s subway ride away from down town.
Before I get started, let me apologize in advance for my spelling errors. There’s no spell check on these computers!! I’m also not sure how to post pictures from my camera yet so you’ll have to wait till next week for those. Sorry!
The ward that I am serving in is Don Valley. My area is called Don Valley West. In my ward, there’s us, another set of enlgish elders, and then another set of Farsi (persian) speaking Elders. So there’s 6 of us! Then there’s the manadrin ward that meets right after us who also has three sets of missionaries in the building so there’s just a ton of us here all the time. It’s super cool. Elder Gunnel (he’s from Idaho) translates sacrament meeting into Farsi. It’s so cool. Elder MacMillian, the one I knew from youth dances back in the day, is our district leader. Our district is comprised of all the missionaries in our ward, so the six of us. Elder Whiting is from Utah, and his compaion is from Tonga. I don’t know how to spell his name so I’ll have to get back to you on that one… I love my district though. They’re all amazing missionaries who know how to work hard.
Sister Griffin, my companion, is from Draper Utah. She was a sister training leader until this transfer and she goes home after this transfer 😦 She’s awesome! We get along really, really well. We teach in unity very well so far, we both like to eat the same things, and she’s one of those super cute missionaries who just always looks good. Haha I love it. My birthday is this Sunday, and her birthday is July 7th, so we’ll both get to celebrate our birthdays together 🙂
So North York. What to say. We were white washed in, as I explained in my last post. The last sisters left us a couple of notes but not very many… Our ward list was outdated by about 2 years and the contacts on the phone were saved rediculously so we couldn’t find anyone. And it’s a bus area, and they didn’t leave any directions! But it’s okay because we had a map and we figured it out eventually 😛 I’m so grateful that I’ve previously had to navigate the subway in Vienna as well as in Atlanta and that I’ve had transit experience in Edmonton, because Sister Griffin has none. I haven’t gotten us lost yet, so I’d say we’re doing pretty well! It’s annoying that we can’t use the internet to help us figure out the quickest and most direct routes, or a schedule of when the busses come, becuase we have to plan for about an hour of travel to get any where. And we live riiiight on the edge of our area so it reaallly takes forever to get anywhere. Neither of us have been in bus areas before. We live within walking distance of the chapel though, so that’s nice!
Speaking of busses, I actually love not having a car because we encounter so many more people that way! Just through talking with everyone, we got 15 new investigators this week, 5 of which have baptismal dates! Compare that to Bowmanville where we were struggling to get one or at most two new investigators every week. This is a blessed land. So far, everyone we have encountered this week has been super nice. I’m sure we’ll get yelled at eventually, but for the most part, people actually talk to us. 🙂
There is soooo much diversity here. It’s not that odd to me, since I felt like Edmonton was pretty multi cultural as well, but compared to Bowmanville, this place is extremely diverse. There’s no chance that Stephen Vowels is reading this right now, but I’ve wanted to quote him a couple of times on my mission so far … haha. It’s always the white people are the meanest. We’ve met people from all over the place. 99% of the time that we talk to someone from the Phillipines, they have Mormon friends back home. It’s pretty cool!
Bus/subway contacting is the coolest experience. There’s a bajillion people on the street/a bus/a subway train at any point in time so how are we possibly going to talk with every one of them about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ? Well basically, you look around, the spirit gives you a nudge, and you go sit by whoever the spirit tells you to. A very high percentage of the time, whoever I’m talking to seems fairly interested and they either become a new investigator, or we grab their number and they become a new potential investigator. God knows who is prepared and he places them in our path and blesses us to be able to recognize who they are!
So basically just as I started to actually love tracting, they throw me in an area where we basically never tract. Figures : P
The last week before the other set of sisters left, they visited a former investigator and taught her once. We went to visit her this week, and she came to a ward activity, as well as to church on Sunday! The last time she had been to church was last fall. A lot of the members remember her, and she was telling everyone how excited she was to be baptized this month! During our lesson with her, she also invited her daughter to sit in with us, and she’s reading the Book of Mormon now too 🙂 According to the ward council, it’s a huge step that she agreed to sit in on our lesson! Hooray!
Speaking of the ward council, our ward mission leader is a rock star. Our bisop is super missionary minded too and wants the ward to hold more activities to help encourage less active members and investigators to come out to church 🙂
Our ward is very multicultural. A very high percentage of our ward are first or second generation converts. A lot of people from South America, the Phillipines, Iran… all over the place. Most of them speak English pretty well though, so sacrament meeting is only translated into Farsi. There are a ton of sisters who are super willing to come out teaching with us and give us referrals so I’m super excited to work with them!
In Relief Society, I introduced myself and said I was from Alberta, and two sisters in the front asked me who my grandpa was. Turns out this one sister did Mixed Chorus with Neila and the other sister went to univeristy with Ron! These types of things don’t even surprise me anymore. The world is such a tiny place when you’re Mormon.
I got a couple of birthday cards this week from friends and family. 🙂 Thank you so much!! Also, shout out to mom, whose birthday is also this week 🙂 My 20th birthday is next Sunday and I anticipate it to be a fairly interesting day for me to say the least… since my little sister Mady is getting baptized on that day and it also happens to be Father’s day. But hey, Happy Father’s day daddeo and HAPPY BAPTISM, MADYSEN!!! I’m so super proud of you! I hope it’s the best day ever!
Oh yes WE GET TO TEACH ESL!!!!! this is probably my favourite thing ever. Our first day here, they (the farsi elders) told us that they were switching things up and we would be the new teachers. We observed one class, had a short training meeting, and then taught class with pretty well zero preparation! There’s Class A for more advanced students, and class B for the people who can barely speak english. Sister Griffin teaches A and I teach B, so we teach each class alone. I was pretty nervous but also super, super stoked! I LOVE teaching ESL! I think it went pretty well, considering our lack of preparation! It’s really cool because we open with a prayer and sing a hymn, and then help them to learn English by explaining the vocabulary of the hymn and it’s meaning. Then we go into normal english class where we don’t talk about church related things, just english. But all of the new students get a chapel tour, and we even got a new investigator out of it who is really excited to pray! I’m so glad that I’ve taken so many different language courses in the past. It helps so, so much. We teach twice a week, once on Tuesday and once on Saturday. About 10 students on average show up for each class, and we normally get about 4 new students per week. I love this. So much.
Our zone has cantanese, mandarin, farsi, and english missionaries. I think there’s more language missionaries than there are English missionaries in the North York zone. There’s spanish missionaries right beside our zone, but not in it I think. It’s super cool. I still wish I was a language missionary but I guess that’s not what Heavenly Father planned for me. However, I still fully plan on learning German once I get home. 😉 Our ward mission leader’s wife is Swedish and she speaks german and her husband is learning German as well 🙂
Wow sorry that was so long winded! But a lot has happened this week! I might expound more on this video next week, but for now my spiritual thought for the week is this Mormon message: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-02-002-the-other-prodigal?lang=eng I’d also encourage you to read Jeffrey R Holland’s talk, “The Other Prodigal”. We need to rejoice at other people’s acheivements, and not compare our achievements (or supposed lack thereof) to theirs. I love the scripture he references in corinthians. I don’t have the reference off hand, but you should definitely read it! I had a lot more prepared to share about this talk, but I feel like I’ve talked so much already so I’ll end it there!
Thank you so much to everyone for all your love and support!
Happy Father’s Day!
Love you all!